I have been using Windows 8.1 for quite some time already. It is close to 3 weeks and I have not yet face any ground breaking issues. Incompatibility is pretty much a non-issue and I got every software and hardware working properly. I have to admit that I was slightly afraid of changing from Windows 7 after reading all the horrible reviews and opinions of others. I am glad though that it isn’t that bad as people make it out to be.
I have to start off saying though that Windows 8 is by no means good (when considered as a whole package). It isn’t an upgrade from Windows 7 but more of a product from a completely different product line. I understand where Microsoft is coming from. With the mobile device market constantly on the rise, it is only logical for them to want to compete in it. Having already a poor start and late entrance, they are simply trying their very best to stay competitive. It is this whole mentality and the idea of wanting to integrate traditional computers with mobile devices that produced a product like Windows 8. It is however extremely unpolished and simply feels lacking in many aspects. The integration between the new “metro interface” (or modern UI whatever you want to call it) and the traditional desktop is simply not there at all. That said, it works as a computer operating system and that is the most important thing. It isn’t efficient or effective in doing its job but it does perform its basic functions to a degree where it is working.
I have to say that when I first saw the metro interface and style on the Windows phone, I felt that it looked really good. In terms of aesthetic it is absolutely amazing (now beauty is extremely subjective and you may love or hate it). The colour scheme, tile-based structure etc is a nice change from the traditional icons and folders. When I first saw it ported to the desktop, I still think it looked really good. The idea and concept behind it sounds great but in reality (as many of us feel) fails to deliver that experience. It is heavily dependent on touch based interactions and traditional computers do not have that. Even with things like a touchscreen monitor, it just doesn’t feel intuitive and smooth to use touch together with the keyboard and mouse. Due to the OS being so heavily built around a touch-based system, users find it inefficient, ineffective and ultimately a hindrance to their experience.
One of the problems of Windows 8 is that the metro interface and traditional desktop are totally separate. It is practically using two completely different OSes with the luxury of changing as and when needed. If you’re an Android device user, it is something like installing different launchers and switching between them from time to time. There is hardly any link between both interfaces and thus becomes redundant and ultimately frustrating because the modern UI is simply harder and more tedious to navigate. Most people dislike changes and the modern UI is not just a change but a total revamp of the traditional experience. If Windows 8 is strictly limited to the modern UI, I will not recommend it to any person unless I bear a grudge with him. Thankfully there is still the traditional desktop mode.
In the 3 weeks of “using” Windows 8, I find myself simply using the traditional desktop interface more than anything. The only time I see the modern UI is during boot up (even now you can boot straight to desktop) and that’s about it. I have yet to tinker much with it because I find no need to. The traditional desktop is definitely Windows through and through (with some slight modifications here and there for the better or worse) and yes it does work. Initially, I do find it quite hard to adjust (simple things like finding the control panel or say the device manager took me awhile) but after some time you get used to it. Time is definitely not of the essence for many, especially businesses, and thus the lack of anyone wanting to change to Windows 8.
Let me just say that there is hardly, if not any, improvements to be had in Windows 8. It introduces a new concept but lacks the proper execution. Full screen apps is pretty but just having a beautiful exterior is not going to help if deep inside it is useless. After all, people using computers do have a common objective and that is to get things done whether it is for work or entertainment. Until Microsoft finds a way to properly integrate both the modern UI with the traditional desktop interface, this whole idea and concept is totally useless for computers. I would love to see the live tiles and apps in action. Just not in action isolated from my traditional interface. A computer simply does not suit such a concept as it is now. It needs work, a lot of work.
For those computer and technology enthusiasts, you should know that Windows 9 is somewhat rumoured for release next year. This is great news for those who have to choice whether or not to upgrade to Windows 8. I would recommend you not to upgrade as it is simply not worth spending the time, effort and money for no tangible benefits at all. For those who do not have a choice and have to use Windows 8, relax it is not that bad. You can still get your work done and entertainment consumed with a slightly frustrating learning phase in the beginning.